ALERT: The Matinee ’23 v. 041 builds on The Matinee ’23 v. 040, which means this is another music marathon. An additional 18 songs are featured, all from the last week of March. Many of the names are familiar ones to this space, but we also have extended ourselves to genres we normally do not cover.

For ease, you might wish to spin The Songs of March and April playlist on Spotify and SoundCloud to hear all 36 songs. However, if you wish to read what we’ve written, the write-ups are short and brief. The tunes included on this edition are:

JFDR – “Life Man” (Reykjavik, Iceland)

RIYL: Agnes Obel, Susanne Sundfør, Pumarosa

In less than three weeks, JFDR‘s new album, Museum (April 28th via Houndstooth), will open its doors for all to not just hear but experience. We use “experience” because Jófríður Ákadóttir is constantly experimenting, seeking new ways to make the accessible sound fresh and innovative. Her songs are not for just entertainment; they are to be consumed. Or should we say that her songs are made to consume us? Regardless of which side you take, you’ll agree that “Life Man” is a beautifully orchestrated number that must be experienced. Delicate production, a pulsing bass, and light percussion swirl around Ákadóttir’s voice, which is filled with wonder and uncertainty, confidence and doubt. She sings about how she is unsure how she feels each day, whether that is in therapy or with the people she should trust. Her lyrics are honest while her music is breezily enlightening. Ákadóttir is a genius after all.

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The Beths – “Watching The Credits” (Auckland, New Zealand)

RIYL: The Beths

By now, even non-indie music fans know about The Beths. Elizabeth Stokes (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Pearce (guitar, vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass, vocals), and Tristan Deck (drums, vocals) have become New Zealand’s biggest music export, touring the world the last three years and more recently performing on NPR’s Tiny Desk and KEXP. Despite the quartet’s busy schedule, they still found a way to release a new tune, and “Watching The Credits” perfectly sums up the band – fun, rambunctious, and a little quirky. Pearce, though, goes into some new territory, as his guitar solo gets a bit proggy. Stokes’ lyricism, meanwhile, is clever and amusing, as she describes how she seeks answers to life’s biggest questions in a movie’s credits. And why not since there might be an extra scene or some subliminal message embedded in the endless scroll of names. 

The single is on Carpark Records, who has been with the band since nearly the start.

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Cable Ties – “Time For You” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Sheer Mag, Bully, Diet Cig

Cable Ties have made a case for themselves as one of Melbourne’s finest punk bands. Their 2020 record Far Enough is evidence of exactly that, and they’re about to follow it up with All Her Plans on June 23rd on Merge Records (world) and Poison City (Australia/NZ). While punk may hint at intense, and often confrontational music, “Time For You”, the latest single from Cable Ties, is a much more positive affair. It’s an upbeat rocker with elements that are equal parts AC/DC and The Clash. It’s a punk rock love anthem, and it’s centered around the track’s delightfully catchy chorus, repeating “I’ve got no time, but I’ve got time for you“. 

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Jess Williamson – “Hunter” (Los Angeles via Austin, USA)

RIYL: Waxahatchee, Hand Habits, Tomberlin

Jess Williamson‘s music captures life in incredible, vivid detail. It’s what made her pairing with Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield last year as Plains so perfect. To follow that up, Williamson is once again on her own, in more ways than one with her upcoming record, Time Ain’t Accidentaldue out June 9th on Mexican Summer. An album about change, brought on by a breakup and then the onset of the pandemic, “Hunter” is a perfect introduction. It’s a folky track, kicking things off with acoustic and brushed drums providing the canvas for Williamson’s words. The song builds with some harmonies, keys, adding even more to the track’s atmosphere. Its lyrics are equally gripping, describing moments in detail and coming to terms with experiences trying to get back out there after a breakup. 

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Wicca Phase Springs Eternal – “Moving Without Movement” (Scranton, PA USA)

RIYL: Yunggoth, Døves, The Drums

Adam McIlwee is a great indie success story. As Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, he has established a huge following with his diverse discography. His bandwagon should increase further as his new, self-titled album will be released June 2nd on Run for Cover Records. Leading things off is “Moving Without Movement”, which sees McIlwee enter blustery goth-pop. And it’s awesome. For the first minute, the Pennsylvanian explains how he is willing to sacrifice everything for another and do what is necessary to feel balanced. The track then takes a turn, becoming more upbeat and cathartic. At this point, we feel McIlwee’s desire to leave his past and lead a new life. To find a path that re-energizes him like this track does for us.

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Alfa Mist – “Apho” (feat. Bongeziwe Mabandla) (London, England)

RIYL: Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown, Kamaal Williams

As jazztronic rises in popularity, names like Alfa Mist increasingly become household names. The London-based composer is one of the genre’s leading innovators, and his new album, Variables (April 21 via ANTI), promises to shoot him to worldwide stardom. Working with artists like South African singer-songwriter Bongeziwe Mabandla will certainly helps his cause, and the two craft a magical affair on “Apho”. The song not only sounds the merging of multiple genres (jazz, electronica, orchestral-pop, art-rock, and African folk) but multiple cultures and even dimensions coming together. The result is a number that is equal parts fantasy, theatrical, and experimental. And it is all brilliantly mesmerizing.

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TOLEDO – “Patch” (Brooklyn, USA)

RIYL: HOVVDY, Sam Evian, Chris Cohen

Last year, Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz released TOLEDO‘s blissful, debut album, How It Ends. A few songs, however, didn’t make the final cut, so the duo released a deluxe, unrated edition, which came out on March 31st via will include some demos and Grand Jury Music. One of the “unreleased” tracks is “Patch”, which reveals the pair’s dreamy brand of Americana. Like everything they’re released, the song is warm, inviting, and a crowd-pleaser. A banjo jangles beneath the guitar and rhythms while Alvarez and Dunn-Pilz’s harmonies are gorgeous. Their songwriting once again is stupendous, telling the tale of a person seeking to re-live and recapture the innocence of the past. In these tough times, many of us wish for simpler times, which we can through TOLEDO’s music.

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Valley Queen  – “Chord of Sympathy” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Big Thief, Sun June, Flock of Dimes

Ever since we heard Natalie Carol’s voice for the first time, Valley Queen has had us completely captivated. Their music is unique and constantly evolving, and their upcoming record, Chord of Sympathy (out April 21st), promises to be their most expansive. “Chord of Sympathy”, the most recent single from the record is perhaps their most adventurous. The track kicks off and immediately feels huge. Roaring bass and a complex drumbeat along with heavy-handed piano chords kicks thing off in a big, big way. Then Carol’s voice joins in, floating over the chaos being laid down underneath. Add in some guitar chime, and the track just sounds so dynamic. Then things come to a quick halt before it all comes back in with some new, and even more gorgeous layers. 

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Hannah Georgas – “This Too Shall Pass” (Toronto, Canada)

RIYL: Kate Davis, Sorcha Richardson, Bad Actor

While Hannah Georgas has been active for nearly a decade-and-a-half and her music have been received Juno nominations, she still is an underappreciated and often overlooked artist. Maybe 2023 will change this and the Vancouver-based singer-songwriter finally receives the well-deserved and well-earned acclaim and hardware. As she puts the final touches on her new album, which is due this summer via Arts & Crafts, she offers a delightful teaser in “This Too Shall Pass”. A rumbling drum line drives this swirling piece of delectable alt-pop. An urgency bubbles below the surface, but it near reveals itself in full. This is the song’s brilliance, as Georgas purposely keeps things restrained in order to reflect the track’s message that tomorrow or the day after will be better. That the pain, troubles, and guilt will be soon in the rear-view mirror while better days await. Hopefully, better days await Georgas.

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Cruush – “Features” (Manchester, England)

RIYL: Softcult, Makthaverskan, Desperate Journalist

After releasing a few stellar tracks, including “Stuck in the Mud” and “False Start”, Cruush not only have signed with a label, but their debut EP, Wishful Thinker, will be released April 14th via Heist or Hit. The record from Amber Warren (vocal, guitar), Arthur Boyd (guitar), Ru Cowl (bass), and Fotis Kalantzis (drums) is one we’ve been looking forward to hearing, so that we can submerge ourselves into their gloomy, Gothic shoegaze, which simultaneously startles and enchants. This is the effect of “Features”, which teeters the line between dreamy gorgeousness and unnerving bleakness with the contrasting shimmering and steely guitars and Warren’s lush vocals set against the hollow throbs of the bass. Warren’s words, too, are jarring, as she sings to herself, “You’re not my friend, you’re not my vow / You’re just an acquaintance with no way out.” Outstanding.

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Neev – “The House” (London, England via Glasgow, Scotland)

RIYL: Lucy Rose, Siv Jakobsen, Laura Marling

We first heard the music of Niamh Katherine Downes – A.K.A. Neev – earlier this year. The first impressions were strong, and it immediately made Neev’s upcoming record, Katherine one to keep an eye on. The latest single from the record, “The House”, continues the trend of immensely stirring, and human folk music. The track kicks off with just Downes and acoustic guitar, setting the scene brilliantly. Then an accompaniment of strings and piano join in, then some gorgeous harmonies add even more punch to Downes’ honesty. There’s an incredible moment where it all dies down, and Downes repeats some lines over and over hypnotically, before some strings swell underneath, breaking the cycle and bringing things to a close in a truly stunning manner. “The House” will be on Katherine, which will be released April 28th on Trapped Animal Records.

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The Natural Lines – “Mahwah” (Kingston, NY USA)

RIYL: Matt Pond PA, Jonathan Wilson, Lanterns on the Lake

A re-boot or a re-start can be re-energizing. Just as Matt Pond, who opted to retire the Matt Pond PA moniker so that he could launch The Natural Lines. Whereas his previous project was more of a solo effort, The Natural Lines is very much of a band, featuring a rotating cast of members including long-time collaborator Chris Hansen (guitar, bass, keys, saxophone and vocals) plus Hilary James (cello, vocals), Kyle Kelly-Yahner (drums), Louie Lino (keys), Sarah Hansen (horns), Sean Hansen (drums, bass), Kat Murphy (vocals), MJ Murphy (vocals), and Anya Marina (vocals). At the end of March, the collective released their self-titled, debut album via Bella Union. From it is “Mahwah”, which is a delicate and sobering number.

Solemn keys hover over a lingering guitar and slight pulses of percussion. This is a song made for Sunday drives and long contemplation, which is what Pond does as he reflects on the crossroads he faced while stopping in the New Jersey township. His words – as they have always been the case regardless of the project’s name – are vivid, brittle, and honest, and they may have you reflecting on your life’s purpose.

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Pillow Fite – “Overpass” (Halifax, Canada)

RIYL: Weyes Blood, Suki Waterhouse, Julia Holter

Cinematic music can take on many forms. It can be cosmic, replicating the sensation of hurtling through space. It can be euphoric, suspenseful, or eerie. Then there are the songs that intimate and sincere, and they could be spun in the background of a scene where two people fall in love or where one individual deals with heartbreak. The latter is where Art Ross (they/them) and Aaron Green (he/him) take us on Pillow Fite‘s newest single, “Overpass”, which at first sounds like the music playing when one enters a deserted, possibly haunted house. In many respects, the track’s setting is an abandoned home, as Ross’ emotive vocal recounts two people’s life story together. A somber piano plays as Ross expresses how they are falling in love – or think they are. Will that love be reciprocated or will this feeling disappear like the passing of another day?

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Annie Blackman – “Bug” (Montclair, NJ)

RIYL: Sadurn, Katy Kirby, Katie Bejsiuk

Annie Blackman is poised to be the next great songwriter to come out of the state that also gave us Bruce Springsteen and Sharon Van Etten. It’s something that seemed obvious when she released “Ash” from her upcoming EP, Bug (April 28th via Father/Daughter Records). Now, hearing the title track, “Bug”, it’s just a matter of time before she’s enshrined among Garden State royalty. Shimmering acoustic guitar accompanied by Blackman’s warm vocals make the track’s inviting lyricism even more impactful. “Bug” grows in some really fantastic ways, and each shift feels organic, from the guitar chime to the harmonies joining in. The way Blackman captures moments from her past feels simple at the surface, but hearing her clever metaphors, vivid lyricism, and the lush sounds make it all feel complex and immersive. Each layer feels like it adds even more color to the world Blackman has created on “Bug”.

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feeo – “Red Meat” (Oxford / London, England)

RIYL: Sade, Arlo Parks, Nilüfer Yanya

In 2021, feeo released the fantastic EP feels like we’re getting older doesn’t it. It was a unique record from a songwriter who isn’t afraid to experiment and tackle complex and interesting issues. Her first single since that EP, “Red Meat” echoes that sentiment. The song starts out with an almost unnerving sound with a haunting guitar part as feeo paints a picture in painstaking detail. More layers join in and add to the surreal feeling of the track, especially the reverb drumming and chilling harmonies. The story Theodora Laird tells is about the complexities of trying to navigate being moral and ethical, but how it’s almost impossible to avoid partaking in that “Red Meat”.

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Deerhoof – “Phase-Out All Remaining Non-Miracles By 2028” (San Francisco, USA)

RIYL: Deerhoof (of course)

With the release of their 19th album, Miracle-Level, on March 31st via Joyful Noise RecordingsDeerhoof showed once again why they are considered one of the most unique and inspiring bands. The LP was written and recorded in Japanese, which is the first time that Satomi Matsuzaki (vocals, bass), John Dietrich (guitar), Ed Rodriguez (guitar), and Greg Saunier (drums) have done this. Their trademark wit and quirkiness, however, remain, as heard on “My Lovely Cat”, “Sit Down, Let Me Tell You a Story”, and “Phase-out All Remaining Non-Miracles by 2028”. The latter is a little less manic and frenetic than their past efforts and it is more methodical and trippy, but it still is a marvelous piece of experimental indie-rock. The song’s mechanical nature represents today’s world, which Matsuzaki describes in her lyrics and how we have turned our planet into a money-making machine. Clever as always.

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Be Your Own Pet – “Hand Grenade” (Nashville, USA)

RIYL: Bikini Kill, L7, Ida Maria

One of the reasons why we had to do a marathon edition is Be Your Own Pet. While the early ’00s gave way to rap, hip hop, and pop, Jemina Pearl Abegg (vocals), Jonas Stein (Guitar), Nathan Vasquez (bass), and John Eatherly (drummer) were sustaining riot grrl, grunge, and punk. They were reminding us that the best music remains guitar-driven, and they return to do the same and just in time. With “Hand Grenade” (out via Third Man Records), their first song in 15 years, they bottle up propulsion into less than three minutes. The rhythms throb, the guitars sear, and Abegg’s voice pierces. She hollers how she’s “not afraid” nor will she be “some casualty”. She instead will seek vengeance on those who seek to silence her. In this day and age, we need more voices like Be Your Own Pet.

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Alex Lahey – “They Wouldn’t Let Me In” (Melbourne, Australia)

RIYL: Ali Barter, Jack River, Momma

Alex Lahey is a songwriting powerhouse. Her first two albums were littered with clever metaphors and sharp observations. Her third album, The Answer Is Always Yes (May 19th via Liberation Records), appears to be more introspective if previous singles, “Congratulations” and “Good Time”, and her latest number, “They Wouldn’t Let Me In”, are indications. While Lahey has gravitated towards more upbeat and anthemic fare, she slightly eases off the gas pedal and delivers a pulsing, punk-touched number. A terrific, probing bass and a sizzling guitar drive the tune while Lahey’s voice is reserved, sounding more like a narrator than the protagonist. She pointedly addresses how she could not participate in parts of society, including her girlfriend’s school formal and other rites of passage, due to her sexual orientation. Instead, Lahey, like so many other people, were left to watch from the outside. Many still are in this position, making songs like “They Wouldn’t Let Me In” necessary and timely.

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